Start and Run a Catering Business


Successfully running a small catering business takes more than a passion for cooking and a knack for preparing tasty dishes. You have to be a superb planner and manager as well. Whether you are already in the food service industry or are looking for a challenging career move, this book is a complete guide to succeeding as a caterer. Topics include: Determine if catering is right for you; Develop contracts that work; Choose the right image and staff; Understanding different catering options; Planning and ...
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Successfully running a small catering business takes more than a passion for cooking and a knack for preparing tasty dishes. You have to be a superb planner and manager as well. Whether you are already in the food service industry or are looking for a challenging career move, this book is a complete guide to succeeding as a caterer. Topics include: Determine if catering is right for you; Develop contracts that work; Choose the right image and staff; Understanding different catering options; Planning and organizing events; Purchasing supplies and equipment; Attracting clients; Successfully orchestrating meals; Choosing the right staff and image.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551807362
  • Publisher: Self-Counsel Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Series: Start and Run ... Series
  • Edition description: 3rd Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 884,759
  • Product dimensions: 8.52 (w) x 9.95 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

After many years as an exploration geologist, George Erdosh realized a long-time dream of starting a successful catering business. He then ran a small but high-end catering business for nearly 20 years. Now a certified cooking teacher, culinary scientist, and food writer, he has published eight food-related books.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Appetizer     xvii
Entree: The Ifs and Whys of It     1
Before You Decide to Start a Catering Business     1
Types of Catering     2
What to Expect in Catering     5
How to Become a Caterer     7
Starting Out on Your Own     8
Purchasing an Existing Business     11
Buying a business directly     12
Buying through a business broker     15
Buying into an Existing Business as a Partner     15
Personal Ingredients     19
Essential Skills and Knowledge     19
Cooking and food preparation     20
Planning and organization     24
Efficiency     25
Tension: If you can't stand the heat     26
Crisis management and problem solving     26
The artistic touch     28
Dealing with clients     30
Desirable Skills and Knowledge     31
Marketing and selling     32
Record keeping and bookkeeping     33
Staff management     33
Financing and budgeting     36
Dealing with seasonal highs and lows     36
The holiday season: Beyond a rolling boil     37
From Gravy Boats to Wheels: Essential Equipment     39
Facilities and Major Equipment     41
Kitchen facilities     41
Refrigerators and freezers     42
Ranges and hot plates     43
Ovens     44
Dishwasher     45
Holding oven     45
Transportation equipment     46
Washer and dryer     48
Kitchen Furnishings     48
Other Essential Catering Gear     49
Smaller Equipment     53
Small Appliances     53
Food processors     53
Mixers     54
Microwave ovens     54
Miscellaneous Electric Equipment     55
Coffeemakers     55
Electric kettles, heating trays, and crock pots     55
Kitchen Equipment     56
Knives     56
Cutting boards     56
Scales, pots and pans, and strainers     57
Serving Equipment     58
Serving ware     58
China, glassware, and linen     59
Baskets and other decorative items     59
Nonessentials and Other Small Tools and Equipment     60
Menu Ingredients      63
Finding and Dealing with Suppliers     63
Retail versus wholesale outlets     63
Establishing relationships with suppliers     64
Ready-made versus half-ready items     5
Buying produce     66
Keeping tabs on prices and quality     66
Food Quality     67
Subcontractors     68
Too Many Cooks     71
Selecting Your Staff     71
Part-time or full-time staff     72
Presentable, hardworking, and reliable     73
Your relationship with your staff     73
You make the rules     74
Paying Your Staff     75
How Many Staff?     77
Dress Code     79
Selling the Sizzle     83
Selling Your Product and Services     83
Know your client     83
Create a photo portfolio to show clients     84
Business cards and menus     85
Choose your clients well     86
Responding to Requests     87
Marketing Your Business     88
Identify your market     88
Be sensitive to your client's needs     92
Letters of appreciation and testimonials     93
Pros and Cons of Advertising in the Yellow Pages     93
Client Feedback     94
Competition     95
Pricing     99
Deciding How Much to Charge     99
What does the competition charge?     100
What are your costs?     100
Calculate Your Overhead     101
Preparation Time     102
Number of Guests     102
Perceived Value to the Client     103
Receptions and Buffets     103
Getting the Contract     105
Safeguard against Cancellations     105
Always ask for a deposit     106
Always confirm the engagement     107
Establish a Refund Policy     112
It Takes More Than a Hot Oven     115
Planning and Organizing an Event     115
Thinking Ahead     116
Checking the Site Beforehand     117
The Supply List     119
The Work Schedule     120
Minimize preparation time     120
Organize your equipment     121
Coordinate your staff     124
Other details     124
Transportation     125
Executing the Event - It's Show Time!      127
Arrive Well Ahead of the Guests     127
Receptions     128
Setting up     128
Unloading     129
Staff pep talk     130
Keep everybody busy     131
Hot and cold foods     131
Keep small batches circulating     132
Replenish some items, ration others     133
Clean as you go     134
Leftovers     135
Self-Service Meals     136
Full-Service Meals     137
Full staff     138
Kitchen facilities     138
When to take the plate away     139
After the Event     140
Diary of a Caterer     143
Event 1: A Reception     143
The beginning phase: Client-caterer contact     143
The middle phase: Planning and organization     147
The final phase: Day of the event     151
Event 2: A Full-Service Dinner     153
The beginning phase: Client-caterer contact     153
The middle phase: Planning and organization     155
The final phase: Day of the event     159
The Cookhouse: It's Not All a Picnic     167
Running a Small Catering Kitchen      167
Recipes     167
Labeling     171
Continuing Your Education     172
Sharpening     174
Kitchen Supplies: Shelf Life     177
Waste Reduction     179
Supplies     180
Staff     181
Space     181
Cleanliness and Cleanup     181
Avoid contamination     182
Staff     183
Utensils and equipment     183
Work space     184
Health Department Code     185
The Office: No Picnic at All     189
Planning the Office Space     189
Basic Equipment for the Office     190
Bookkeeping and Other Records     191
Records     192
Records of employee hours worked     193
Events and appointments     93
Client and event records     193
Invoicing events     194
Accounts of events     195
Notes on past events     195
Inquiries and requests     195
Paying your bills     196
Monthly Summary     196
Payroll     197
Annual Summary     197
Income Taxes      198
Legality: As Necessary as Dishwashing     199
In the United States     200
In Canada     203
Kitchen Hints for Caterers     205
Spices, Herbs, and Flavorings     206
Onions     207
Breads     208
Legumes     208
Stocks     209
Vegetarian Cooking     211
Using Your Freezer     212
Blanching     213
Browning Meat and Chicken     213
Extra Food     214
Brand-Name or Store-Brand Products     215
Flavoring Foods     215
Defrosting     216
Safe Eggs     216
Wine in Cooking     217
Exotic and Rare Ingredients     218
Letter of Agreement     78
Cover Letters     89
Questionnaire Cover Letter     96
Client Questionnaire     97
Pricing a Recipe     101
Contract and Order Forms     109
Event Checklist     123
Proposal Letter: Reception     146
Reception Menu     149
Supply List and Detailed Schedule     150
Proposal Letter: Full-Service Dinner      156
Preparation Schedule for the Full-Service Dinner     158
Order List     160
Recipe for the Novice Cook     169
Recipe for the Professional Cook     170
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